Psychiatric diagnosis is a hate crime. To give another person a harmful diagnosis is a crime against all humanity. We are all guilty of having done this in our lives, having judged another based on a derogatory word others use to describe that person.
A diagnosis does the following:
Psych diagnosis monetizes your suffering. This does a disservice to anyone who is a “patient.” It minimizes and trivializes your suffering, putting not only a number (DSM) but a price tag on it. I and many others are working to stop the System from turning valid and worthy human beings into commodity.
Psych diagnosis assumes the ufferer will never change. This conclusion is false. While many do not change, you are doing a disservice to a person by concluding that a negative psych diagnosis is “for life.” I personally do not accept that a person is permanently angry, permanently anxious, permanently depressed, permanently “bipolar,” or permanently psychotic. A person can change bad habits no matter how ingrained they may seem. Nor is anyone a permanent “psychopath” nor possesses any permanent “personality disorder.” We need to eliminate the notion of “chronic mental illness.” I do believe we are all made differently. I think that’s fantastic, actually.
Psych diagnosis mean less compassion and caring. If a person with a diagnosis becomes upset or causes disturbance, our communities can now railroad that person into “services.” It’s handy to do so and eliminates having to touch that person, speak with her, spend time with her, or give her a hug. I am saddened when I see this happening. The last thing we need is more “services.” Instead, we need to be a more loving community.
Psych diagnosis causes bigotry. As soon as a person’s diagnosis is shared in communities, that person is now seen through a colored lens. This means all actions by this person will be interpreted as “symptoms.” This is another way that suffering is minimized. It also causes people to misinterpret the actions of the diagnosed person. If a sufferer is convinced, “I have a disease,” then often the sufferer reads her own life through that lens, too.
Psych diagnosis justifies the barbaric practices that are now praised as “help.” This leads to societal assumption that “mentally ill” people don’t have the same human rights as the non-diagnosed.
Psych diagnosis obliterates hope. The idea of permanence harms sufferers and especially their families.
Psych diagnosis is a form of genocide. People with diagnoses die young, typically 25 years younger than otherwise, from the various “cures” that are mass marketed all over the world. Many are incarcerated or are forced to live marginalized lives.
This is why I see labeling not as a health crisis, nor a healthcare crisis, but a crisis in human rights. This is the crux of the many problems we see today in the System.
That said, I will tell you a couple of stories. One happened a couple of years ago, and the other, a few hours ago.
1. The sex offender
“Sex offender” is a harmful label. It assumes that a person will never change. However, we have seen many people change who have committed sex crimes. Labeling assumes the person’s sentencing was done correctly, however, we know that a person can be framed. I certainly believe we need to address these crimes but should not be dependent on ease of capturing and then bringing a person to trial.
I believe instead in restorative justice. I have met many people who were crime victims who tell me that putting person behind bars wasn’t particularly satisfying. It doesn’t reverse the harm done. Nor does the death sentence. It satisfies no one but an angry mob, and a life is snuffed out with no chance of bringing that person back. I have seen first hand convicted killers turn their lives around. I was friends with one from Georgia. This wonderful man reached out to me when no one else would, and it’s fair to say he saved my life.
I believe it was 2012 when I heard that a known sex offender lived in my town. I saw an article about him and was dismayed. I immediately saw this story from his point of view. I refused to chime in with the mob.
What happens to a person with the label “sex offender.” We can liken it to what happens to a dark-skinned, young man wearing a hoodie. When bigoted cops approach such a man, what happens when he reaches into his pocket? Immediately, the cops shoot, assuming he’s reaching for a weapon.
What happens when a known sex offender reaches into his pocket? Nothing. Not unless someone who sees him through the colored lens of diagnosis witnesses this action. Then, he is reported by witnesses to have reached for his penis. This is due to a false assumption brought on by labeling.
I heard that someone had reported a minor incident like this. Know what I did? I wrote to him. I have no clue how I got his email address, but I did. I wrote and said that I, too, was the target of bullying and hatred. I told him I knew what it felt like to have to live in such a manner, shunned by all around you. I told him he could write back if he wanted. I hated the idea that any human being was subject to this.
I know what some of you are thinking. That by doing this, I minimized rape and other sex crimes. I am not, and I feel that such crimes should be dealt with firmly. A person who rapes should be asked to provide compensation, an apology, and asked not only to change their ways, but to do good for the world, ensuring that no more people will be subject to such horrific acts. I wonder if this approach would mean that far fewer people who commit these crimes will get away with them. I wonder if restorative justice would reduce rape and other crimes.
I was sad that this man didn’t write back. I was also aware that most likely, his email was being monitored, and that my email raised a few eyebrows over at the local police station. I didn’t care about that, since I care more about human life. I want to see rape and other sex crimes obliterated, and for such harmful labeling come to an end.
2. A misunderstanding, joyfully resolved.
I normally don’t turn on the computer nor check email in the middle of the night. But last night, I did. There was an email from my beloved friend from whom I had not heard for a while. I had assumed she had been busy with her family, or perhaps away from home. This wasn’t the case. She told me that a while back, I had posted that I had been in prison for attempted murder. I now know that although in the same article I later explained this statement, I can see how my short explanation could have easily been overlooked. This would especially be the case for a person who knew me well and perhaps was upset and dismayed that I had kept this Big Secret from her. You can see the article here. As you can see, the error was entirely mine. I added explanations before and after the article. I think my one-sentence explanation stating that I used the term “prison” to mean “mental prison” and “attempted murder” to mean “attempted murder of self” was too hidden within the text, even though I had it set apart in its own paragraph.
I can see my friend laughing right now, imagining her response once she read my return email. I want to say that I was incredibly moved by this experience. I saw a person who knew me, who saw that her conclusion about me seemed to lack congruence with her prior experience. Her letter was incredibly kind, saying that she liked me and didn’t see me in that light. When she realized it was all a misunderstanding, and wrote back again, my eyes were further open to possibility.
While we might want to condemn all psych diagnosis, we must honor those who see beyond “reputation.” We must rejoice that there are wonderful people out there who do reach out, who throw off society’s colored glasses. It is my hope that our current system can be smashed down, allowing for a new one to emerge, based on kindness and compassion. We will indeed put an end to psych labeling. I believe any shrink out there can change their ways and adopt a way of being helpful that doesn’t include harming a person, especially not through diagnosis.
Will you reach out to your fellow human today?